Friday, January 6, 2012

Totem



Totem


Spirit eater
White waltzer
secret inside my skin
snailcurled in snowdrift
sleeping, black lips closed over
teeth big as carrots, dark poppy pod eyes
shut, REM flutter stilled
silent as the melting flake;
in dreams you
come to eat the gold yolk
from the half-egg moon called
winter’s sun.

Wake
when the hunter comes
lift up your chainsaw paws and
show your ivory yellow teeth
scrimshawed and snagged by
the obduracy of your kills;
shake 
his bones from your throat
with a growl.
Ice orphan, 
White diver
            my only protection now.           

All arctic summer you sidled closer
in your need, your frost breath
following me across another country.
All summer you harvested
the sleek black bodies
of grief, turning the ice
salty red with your patience;
only the fleetest fled unfurrowed, 
melting a path to
 that stonecold 
immeasurable abyss.

When the dark time came 
and there was 
nowhere else, you wooed me
 with garnets and alabaster freshcut from all 
the sorrows' spawn you'd slain
 for me. 
So I gave you
sleep in the black heartcave
content to barter away all
yesterday’s skins
for the talisman necklace
of your ebony claws.






January 2011



Posted for   Fireblossom Friday   at real toads



Header image: Post card. Bear totem on grave. Ketchikan, Alaska.
Source: US National Archives, series: Photographs of the Inhabitants of Metlakatla, British Columbia and Metlakatla, Alaska, compiled ca. 1856 - 1936
Public Domain via wikimedia commons






27 comments:

  1. Cozy here by the fire. . . :-)

    She who survives gets the garnets and the claws, and hopefully some hibernating rest.

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  2. some wicked fun rhyme and word play in this...chainsaw and scrimshaw....and snailcurled in snowdrift sleeping...nice allit...and descriptions as well...would actually like to hear you speak this one hedge...good stuff...

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  3. The title is a great way into this with mama griz of a song. 'Tis a comfort to have her circling beyond the last light of psyche's, making things safe at home. Cute necklace, tooth-sharp poem. And I was going to post my orca poem, slashing the same jugular ... Don't need to now, with this. You had me slurpring at

    in dreams you
    come to eat the gold yolk
    from the half-egg moon called
    winter’s sun.


    - Fine work, Hedge. B.

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  4. Thanks, friends. This was a fun one to write, though it took a lot of fiddling to get the right tune with it.

    @B:I think you can blame Melville for this one--the power of white to strike fear, the cold abyss where it mystically swims and feeds, and all. I've reached the part where the two talisman whale heads are swinging from the masts and the deck is a shambles of slaughter. I'm finding my sympathies lie with the whale.

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  5. This gave me the best kind of shiver! The lines that Brendan already quoted . . . brilliant.

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  6. Just beautiful! I love the language, and the descriptions you come up with are 'to die for.'

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  7. Chillingly beautiful. Thank you.

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  8. in dreams you
    come to eat the gold yolk
    from the half-egg moon called
    winter’s sun.... How amazing is this image?

    Your poem is filled with the brutality of wilderness at its most noble.. I love those concluding lines. Brilliant.

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  9. I think this is the best of your poems that I've read. It is beautifully written, original, full of happy word combinations. YES!

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  10. I agree with Brian... this would be lovely read aloud. It fows so beautifully and has such strong images. Great piece!!

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  11. Oh my goodness, this is a fabulous write! So many INCREDIBLE images: "the gold yolk from the half-egg moon", "ice orphan", "you harvested the sleek black bodies of grief".......amazing writing, kiddo. Loved every shining line.

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  12. Brilliant! Hard to top what everyone else has said, it was just amazing!

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  13. Shivers...I love "ice orphan, white diver..." The way the vowels flow together is beautiful. Great images of the stark wild.

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  14. Ok, I went as far from kitten as I could.

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  15. So wonderfully, beautifully said. I could see it all, the polar bear, the seals... fabulous.
    K

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  16. I love the last five lines of the first stanza particularly, and I agree with Lolamouse that the entire thing just *sounds* right. You've gone far into the dreamtime for this one and emerged with some major medicine. There is always an exchange involved when one does that; value for value or pain for pain...but what other way is there, that means anything?

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  17. I forgot to say that love that the outline of the poem represents a totem!

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  18. I have to agree that the sound of your words is perfect. What a great descriptive write.

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  19. Wow! This is a marvelous piece...the imagery is so powerful...Nice work!!

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  20. This is one intriguing, terrific piece. The image did scare me!

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  21. I wept. There could not be a better poem about a totem animal--shaped like a totem-- or any animal, for that matter.

    My totem animal, too--the first in my collection of Zuni fetishes and always close in thought.

    Your poem and the top photo immediately took me back to a book my sis sent to me. I passed it on to a cousin and wish I had not let it go. :(
    Are you familiar with the life and art of Emily Carr? She is a kindred of yours, most definitely. Here is the book I read about her. While I was looking for the link I saw many others I would love to have. The cover on this one has a beautiful totem, that she most likely painted....
    What a woman she was and what a life she did live.

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  22. I've been skipping around and reading this morning, here and there, enjoying the quiet and the music of words. I found myself here and lost in your words. You pulled me into the images and sensations. A beautiful way to start the day.

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  23. For some reason, Hedge, this is a heartbreaker for me.
    I was embroiled in your words, the passage of your words, and I had to shake my head to come out of this particular trance you weave here.
    Great alliteration here, impecable rhythm, not a straightline beat, but something under the skin, straight to the heart.

    Hedge, I think this poem has got to be one of my favorites of yours. Remarkable in so many ways, the physicality of this and the chant outside..that is the only way I can explain it right now.

    Every word was exact, precise to the subject, with no hanging flesh unnecessary, and that is very hard with poetry.

    Brava!

    Lady Nyo

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  24. Quite wonderful poetry. Thank you.

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  25. throw around words like "obduracy" and i'll keep crawling back. :)

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  26. ah wonderful way with words indeed - the totem - love where you took this prompt, and your descriptions! woosh - they wrapped me up - sights and thoughts, a clever write for sure - loved "in dreams you
    come to eat the gold yolk
    from the half-egg moon called
    winter’s sun." - and then the harshness of nature and wilderness "lift up your chainsaw paws and
    show your ivory yellow teeth
    scrimshawed and snagged by
    the obduracy of your kills" - enjoyed this lots!

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg